2 Investigators: District Criticized For Response To Bullying Claims
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Students repeatedly bullied at school often times find themselves trapped, forced to continue going to a school with their tormentors.
Now, the family of an 11-year-old girl in this situation is taking action that could help other bully victims.
2 Investigator Dave Savini reports.
Alexis Boundas’ classroom this year has been in her basement. What she misses most about school is being with her friends.
Alexis has been home-schooled since leaving Maercker Elementary School in Westmont, she says, because of extreme bullying.
The fifth-grader says she was groped and kissed. She wanted to go to a different school, but district officials did not allow it, even after a terrifying threat from a boy.
“He said, ‘Tonight I’m going to come to your house with my gun and kill all your family,’” Alexis said, adding the boy claimed his mother was a police officer and he had access to a gun.
Tom Boundas, Alexis’s father, says the school did not do a proper investigation and did not even check for witnesses. Then, without her parents’ knowledge, the Maercker School District put Alexis in a room with the boy for a counseling session.
“He just threatened to kill our family,” Tom Boundas says. “You can’t be putting that person in the room with my daughter.”
A few weeks later, Alexis allegedly was assaulted by another student who plunged a sharp pencil into her leg when she told him to stop looking at her test answers.
“He picked up his pencil, sharpened it. He came over and just stabbed me,” she says.
She had to have a doctor remove part of the pencil tip from her leg.
Tiffany Boundas, Alexis mother, said the school did not take this allegation seriously.
“The superintendent actually said, ‘Well, we don’t even know if she did this to herself at home and came to school like this,’” she says.
The A student began having panic attacks and other stress-related medical problems. Two doctors said she should not go back to that school. The family offered to pay for a transfer to a neighboring public school, but the superintendent has not approved that.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Tiffany Boundas.
The family contacted state Rep. Jim Durkin for help.
“I walked out not very satisfied with the meeting,” said Durkin.
He says the superintendent of the west suburban school district tried to rebut and minimize what happened to Alexis. Durkin is now considering creating legislation to allow extreme bullying victims school transfers at no expense.
“Every day a child is out of school, I mean, it’s a terrible thing,” the lawmaker says. “It’s tragic.”
The Boundas family successfully sued the district to get Alexis a tutor while she is home-schooled. They still want her transferred, but now they want the district to pay for it.
In the meantime, Alexis is now attending a private school.
School Superintendent Catherine Berning Berning says privacy laws prevent the district from commenting on an individual student.
“District 60 is committed to creating a school environment that is safe, respectful, inclusive and supportive,” she said in a written statement. “We take all allegations of harassment seriously and investigate them thoroughly.”